Latest Cases - June 2014

Off on a jolly to Southwell...

5th June 2014

Good afternoon, friends,

In this issue of Punters’ Verdict….

  • When trialing tipsters….
  • Am I getting what I actually need?
  • Good signs in any tipping service….

Off on a jolly to Southwell….

Today the Judge is on a well-deserved jolly with friends.

He’s heading to Southwell race track where some really low-grade barrel-scrapers are set to disappoint backers on the famous Nottinghamshire sludge.

The card comprises three Class 6 races, three Class 5 races and – the feature event – a Class 4 contest worth just under £5k to winning connections. It promises to be an absolute cracker (????).

Only the bookmaking industry (and the racecourse authorities in league with them) could dream up a feast so lacking in any real food. We are dealing with the culinary equivalent of Netto’s home-brand sausage roll – all wrapper, ruff-puff pastry and so little sausage it is barely worthy of the name.

Attendance at Southwell often feels like something akin to an act of charity. It’s a bit like going to a ‘production’ put on by the local amateur dramatic society. You know it’s going to be dreadful and you don’t really want to be seen there – but if you don’t go then who will? Maybe the Judge will get lucky and the minibus will break down en route?

If not then maybe the Judge will get his just deserts with the two handicappers David O’Meara saddles at the track this afternoon. Nobody has their handicappers in better form right now – his last 30 qualifiers have produced 10 wins.

In the meantime it will do us no harm to revisit some of the basics of the betting craft….

Here for your enjoyment and edification we revisit some of the key attributes you should be looking for when putting tipsters to the test….

When trialing tipsters….

If you've signed up for a free trial of a tipping service then your primary objective is to test the performance of the service.

For example:

  • You want to get a feel for how many bets the service will recommend per day or per week – and what depth of gambling pocket you will need in order to follow the selections. A service that provides a handful of tips each week can be easier to manage than one of those services that generate a dozen selections every day of the week – particularly if you’re on a budget.
  • You want to know what kind of ratio of winners to losers you can expect. You want to get some kind of idea about the kind of strike-rate the service can hit and maintain (or not) and whether or not the people behind the service actually have any notable insight into the sports they’re playing.
  • Every service produces losers – but how many and with what frequency? Your trial period will give you at least some insight into the kind of losing runs you might have to endure as a full member of the service. This is a particular concern if the betting bank you’re playing with is on the low side.
  • And, of course, you want to get a feel for the kind of bottom line profits a service might produce – something that obviously depends on the strike rates the service maintains and the prices of the winning selections.

All of that’s pretty obvious. But I just wanted to share a few thoughts on another crucial and primary consideration I make whenever I trial a tipping service. In addition to all the above I keep two simple questions in my minds at all times through the trial period:

  • Do I really need this service?
  • Is this a service I should be paying good money for?

Am I getting what I actually need?

Membership of a tipping service is an expensive commitment. Over a year you’re going to be paying at least £150 for the privilege of receiving selections – and in all likelihood quite a lot more.

Let’s put it this way – a tipping service that charges ‘just’ £30 per month costs you £360 over a 12 month period. And that kind of monthly rate is not unusual. And nor is it out of the ordinary for services that want to project exclusivity or high levels of specific expertise to be charging a hell of a lot more.

Now if I’m going to be lashing out that kind of outlay on a tipping service then that service has got to be supplying me with something that I cannot do for myself – something I haven’t got the time, the knowledge or the information to do off my own bat. If it isn’t then the whole exercise is going to be a waste of my money and I won’t go any further than the end of the trial period.

For example, I would not pay some guy a monthly fee to tell me whether to bet black or red, odds or evens at the roulette table. And for the same reason I’m not going to line the pockets of some wide boy tipping service that only provides ‘tips’ in head-to-head contests between tennis players, snooker players, darts throwers and the like.

My feeling is that even if the guy is guessing or using a pin he’s going to be right 50% of the time – so I might as well keep the subscription fees in my pocket and start sharpening my own pin. I’m particularly disinterested in services where the consistent pick is the shorter priced participant in the head-to-head. Why do I need to pay some guy to tell me something the market is already shouting out loud and clear?

That said if the tipster has a long track record of picking it right when the outsider of a snooker match comes out on top then I might very well sit up and take notice. He’s beating the market view consistently – something I can’t do myself – and as such might be worth a subscription fee.

Similarly, a tipster who picks tournament winners with regularity would be of interest. So too a tipster with a track record of predicting correct scores, set-betting results or winning margins - because I’m not particularly proficient at finding those bets for myself. But some guy just advising me to back the jolly in a two-horse race isn’t really providing a ‘service’ worthy of the title and I’ll give him the swerve.

It’s the same with the racing. I don’t need a service pointing me towards the favourite, the horse with the top rating or the runner coming out of the big yard. I only have to look at an online betting tissue or a race card for that information. And it doesn’t cost me a penny.

And it’s the same with football. There are services out there charging decent money and telling subscribers they should be getting on Chelsea, Man City, Celtic, Real Madrid and Barcelona to win at home against bottom-of-the-table opposition. Come on! Tell us something we don’t know. Tell me when they’reNOT going to win at home! That would be something worth knowing – and I’d gladly pay for that kind of market-beating steer.     

Goods signs in any tipping service….

Whenever I conduct a trial of a tipping service I’m looking very closely at what I actually get for my money. I’m trying to establish what it is that the service and the person/s behind it can do for me that I can’t necessarily or easily do for myself.

There are generally 4 things I’m looking for and, if I find them, the service becomes of interest:

  • Success with non-obvious picks that are not just reflections of what the rest of the market believes. To me this is evidence that a service is thinking on its own terms and has something original and/or unique to offer.
  • The ability to identify value. This isn’t too far removed from point 1 - but not every non-obvious pick represents value in the market. Value pickers are not always looking to find winners. Their approach revolves around betting selections whose price under-estimates their true chances of winning. In this area I can forgive losers. What I’m looking for are picks that genuinely out-perform their price – evidence that the tipster has a decent line on his sport and the markets he plays.
  • Selections and prices that enable decent trading positions. I’m ostensibly an exchange player and if I can pinch risk-free points (by backing a selection at one price and then laying it back at a shorter price) then I’m a happy bunny. A tipster who proves he can provide me with a stream of selections which subsequently shorten up is gold dust to me. A consistent performance in this area tells me he’s ahead of the curve in the market – and probably worth a fee.
  • Genuine education. Tipping services which just provide a text message or an email containing their selections are okay as far as they go. But what are you learning? Are you getting to see the methods or the thinking behind the selections? Are you improving your understanding of your sport? Are you getting a deeper insight? Not everybody is looking for education. But if I’m spending good money then I like something long-term to take away with me. And a service that supplies data, knowledge, methods or insights in addition to plain tips is a more attractive proposition to this particular punter. Not many services excel in this area but those that do tend to produce a positive experience.

Just some thoughts you might want to bear in mind the next time you’re trialling a tipping service.

I’ll be back next week.

Until then, my best regards.

The Judge

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